Fox host Bill O'Reilly defended Donald Trump, claiming he's never seen the GOP presidential hopeful show any racism, while correcting Trump's insensitive and wildly inaccurate tweet that falsely claimed that African-Americans are responsible for more than 80 percent of murders against whites. FBI crime data shows that the majority of murders are committed by members of the same race.
On the November 13 edition of his show, O'Reilly interviewed Trump, who claimed he was "probably the least racist person on Earth." O'Reilly agreed with him, commenting "I never saw any racism from you," then immediately criticized Trump's racist tweet, explaining to him that the statistic is "totally wrong":
O'REILLY (HOST): Are you aware that the liberal media and the Democratic Party in general are trying to paint you as a racist? Are you aware of that?
TRUMP: I think so. But I think people know better than that. I'm probably the least racist person on Earth.
O'REILLY: Well I have known you a long time --
TRUMP: I think people know better than that.
O'REILLY: -- I never saw any racism from you. However, when you tweet out a thing, and this bothered me, I got to tell you. You tweeted out that whites killed by blacks -- these are statistics you picked up from somewhere -- at a rate of 81 percent. And that's totally wrong. Whites killed by blacks is 15 percent, yet you tweeted it was 81 percent.
TRUMP: Bill, I didn't tweet. I retweeted somebody that was supposedly an expert and also a radio show.
O'REILLY: Yeah, but you don't want to be -- why do you want to be in that zone?
TRUMP: Bill. Bill. Am I going to check every statistic? I get millions and millions of people @realdonaldtrump by the way.
O'REILLY: You got to. You are a presidential contender you got to check it.
TRUMP: I have millions of people. You know what, fine, but this came out of radio shows and everything else.
O'REILLY: Oh come on, radio shows?
TRUMP: Excuse me. All it was is a retweet. It wasn't from me. And it did. It came out of radio show and other places, because you see all the names --
O'REILLY: Look, you know I'm looking out for you, right? You know that? That I'm looking out for you? I look out for every honest politician, I don't care what party they are in. Don't do this. Don't put your name on stuff like this. Because it makes the other side, it gives them stuff to tell the ill-informed voter that you are a racist. I mean, you just handed them a platter.
According to 2014 FBI data, approximately 82 percent of white Americans were killed by other white Americans in murders where the race of both the victim and offender were known. Additionally, Trump's graphic was sourced to the "Crime Statistics Bureau - San Francisco," which does not exist.
Trump has made numerous xenophobic and racially-charged comments that were defended and praised by right-wing media. In July, Trump called Mexican immigrants "criminals" and "rapists," and later cited an "unabashedly racist" deportation plan created during the Eisenhower presidency, dubbed "Operation Wetback," as an example for his deportation policy. Recently, Trump inaccurately claimed that thousands of Muslim-Americans cheered when the World Trade Center buildings fell, and when asked about a Black Lives Matter protester who was beaten at one of his rallies, Trump responded that, "Maybe he should have been roughed up."
A Michigan mayor who was asked by a CNN anchor whether she is "afraid" to govern "a majority Muslim-American city" told Media Matters she was caught "completely by surprise" by the line of questioning.
Karen Majewski, mayor of Hamtramck, Michigan, appeared November 23 on CNN Newsroom and was asked by anchor Carol Costello, "You govern a majority Muslim-American city. Are you afraid?" Majewski responded by explaining that she is "not afraid," and clarifying that she does not think the city is actually majority Muslim population-wise, though it did recently elect a majority-Muslim city council.
"I was very surprised," Majewski said of Costello's questioning during a Monday interview with Media Matters. "What I had expected and what people usually ask me about is the diversity of this city and the changing demographics and something about the way that reflects changing American demographics in general. So the focus on terrorism and fear caught me completely by surprise."
"We just never think about it in those terms and we don't think of our Muslim neighbors in those terms," she added. "There may be tensions, but they're not tensions over something like terrorism."
Majewski, who has served as mayor since 2006 and runs a vintage clothing shop in town, said CNN producers did not tell her beforehand about the terrorism-focused line of questioning.
"No, they didn't," she said. "I just assumed it was about the election and the kind of change from a Polish-dominated city to a city where the demographic is changing."
"I didn't ask and they didn't tell me that there was a kind of national security person who was going to be the co-interviewee," she added. "If I had known that it might have clued me to what kind of angle they were going to take." (The other person on the panel was Buck Sexton, a conservative radio host for Glenn Beck's The Blaze and CNN political commentator.)
Majewski speculated that the interview focus might have been prompted by a November 21 Washington Post article that she contends misstated that the city's population was now Muslim-majority, not just the city council, and raised unfounded terrorism fears.
"I think the misinterpretation came from the headline of The Washington Post article," Majewski said. "The article itself seemed truncated and cut off at the knees and the headline was completely misleading."
Asked if CNN or Costello had reached out to apologize or discuss the interview, Majewski said, "I imagine she might be getting some flack. I wouldn't expect any kind of apology. I just thought it was an odd line of questioning."
CNN's interview of Majewski:
New research from Southern Methodist University (SMU) found that some children's textbooks that depict the reality of human-caused climate change with uncertainty are influenced by a climate science knowledge gap that finds its roots partly in conservative media misinformation.
In a language analysis of four major California science textbooks, the SMU researchers found that the books delivered a message "that climate change is possibly happening, that humans may or may not be causing it, and that we do not need to take immediate mitigating action."
The study concluded that the four 6th grade textbooks -- including books from major national publishing companies McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson -- used language and writing techniques that "more closely match the public discourse of doubt about climate change rather than the scientific discourse" one might expect from academic texts. The books used language that misleadingly amplified uncertainty about the causes of climate change, undermined the expertise of climate scientists, and implied a false balance narrative around the realities of climate change within the scientific community.
For example, the authors found that only 21 percent of the instances discussing the cause-effect factors in climate change identified the effects of human activity, and that in the texts, "Scientists were often said to think or believe but rarely were scientists said to be inferring from evidence or data."
The SMU study explained that conservative media falsehoods about climate change contribute to a shift in public discourse, which eventually influences textbook language by creating competing interests within the textbook market. Publishers' attempts to cater to the largest market -- which includes textbook buyers who ascribe to the "public discourse of doubt" around climate change -- ultimately result in misleading textbook language and factual inaccuracies. Although the study focused on California textbooks, such a large textbook market often "set[s] standards for the rest of the country" according to the study's authors -- an effect that may already be seen in Texas.
How does this "public discourse of doubt" on climate change first develop? The researchers at SMU cited Fox News' coverage of climate science as one factor in shaping misinformation, pointing to previous research that showed Fox has disproportionately interviewed climate science deniers and that its viewers are more likely to be climate science deniers themselves (emphasis added):
[I]n discussing the topic of climate change, some segments of the media use the journalistic norm of 'balance' -- giving equal weight to all positions about this phenomenon -- when building frames to present to the public (Boykoff 2007). When frame setting, segments of the media adhere to this norm to give equal time to a climate scientist and a climate denier when addressing climate change. For example, Fox News presents climate change as uncertain by interviewing a greater proportion of climate deniers (Feldman et al. 2012). As a result, at the individual-level effects of framing stage, the audience may come to understand human-caused climate change as controversial. And indeed, viewers of Fox News are more likely to be climate skeptics even when taking into account political affiliation (Feldman et al. 2012). The effects of framing go beyond individual positions about specific topics. Frames accumulate into larger discourses, which are 'a shared way of apprehending the world... enabling those who subscribe to it to interpret bits of information and put them together into coherent stories or accounts' (Dryzek 2013, 9). We see two discourses prevalent in climate change communication: a 'scientific discourse' and a 'public discourse.'
The researchers' implication of Fox News in the creation of a misinformed public discourse is well founded. Media figures at Fox have a long record of repeating scientific inaccuracies on air and allowing fringe figures to perpetuate widely debunked claims. The similarities between the doubtful language and inaccurate claims on Fox and in the textbook examples from the study are striking:
The SMU study found that the textbooks dedicated substantial portions of their passages on climate change to discussing natural causes rather than human causes, despite that "there is little doubt about the causes of current climate change" within the scientific community that human activities are the driving force behind the phenomenon:
All four textbooks dedicated a substantial portion of the chapters about climate change to describe the natural factors that could be causing this phenomenon. Although all four textbooks indicated that human beings could be having an impact on climate change, they framed this topic as an issue in which not all scientists are in agreement as can be seen in the following example:
- Not all scientists agree about the causes of global warming. Some scientists think that the 0.7 Celsius degree rise in global temperatures over the past 120 years may be due in part to natural variations in climate. (Prentice Hall 2008)
The study stated in a discussion of its findings: "The causes of climate change were shrouded in uncertainty in the texts we analyzed. Specifically, the human contribution to climate change was presented as a possibility rather than a certainty."
Fox Host: Is Global Warming Man-Made? "Nobody Knows." In a June 2014 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, Fox News' Steve Doocy asserted that "nobody knows" if the causes of global warming are natural or man-made:
STEVE DOOCY: Keep in mind: nobody is saying that the planet isn't getting warmer. Although, you know, we had a story a couple of days ago that the 1930s were much, much warmer than the decade we're in right now. And the globe has not warmed in 17 years. Here's the thing - nobody's saying the globe isn't warming. The question comes down to, if it is, what's making it warm up? Is it just a natural climactic [sic] cycle? Or is it something man-caused? Nobody knows.
Fox News Correspondent: "There Is Not Consensus" On Causes Of Climate Change. On the September 1 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier, Fox News correspondent Dan Springer rejected the scientific consensus on human-induced climate change, stating that "while the Obama administration blames man and the burning of fossil fuels, there is not consensus," before cutting to an economist from the conservative Heritage Foundation to support his claim.
DAN SPRINGER: Scientists say the Arctic has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the nation. Sea ice is arriving later in the fall and melting sooner in the summer. This was one of the worst wildfire seasons on record in the Last Frontier State -- 5 million acres burned, about the size of Massachusetts. But while the Obama administration blames man and the burning of fossil fuels, there is not consensus.
The SMU study identified language in multiple textbooks that emphasized the historical context of climate change "to support the idea that climate had been changing well before humans were here and, therefore, is a naturally occurring phenomenon," including the following examples:
However, climates have gradually changed throughout Earth's history. (Prentice Hall, 2008)
Scientists have found evidence of many major ice ages throughout Earth's geologic history. (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Inc. 2007)
Media figures often appear on Fox News to suggest that historical shifts in the global climate somehow disprove the notion that human-driven climate change is threatening our way of life. Media Matters compiled several, such as Competitive Enterprise Institute's Chris Horner, saying: "Climate changes. It always has, it always will."
The SMU study noted that "all four textbooks mentioned the negative effects of climate change, but two of them also discussed the potential positive results of this phenomenon," pointing out the following examples:
Global warming could have some positive effects. Farmers in some areas that are now cool could plant crops two times a year instead of one. Places that are too cold for farming today could become farmland. However, many effects of global warming are likely to be less positive. (Prentice Hall, 2008)
But farther north, such as in Canada, weather conditions for farming would improve. (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Inc. 2007)
Fox's Gutfeld: "Even If There Is Global Warming ... It's Good For Human Beings." On the April 11, 2012 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld asserted : "even if there is global warming ... it's good for human beings. If a polar bear dies, I don't feel bad. Honestly I don't. No, human beings. When temperature goes up, human beings live longer. When you have cold spells across countries, people die."
Fox Turned To Mark Levin And A Coal Miner To Say "CO's What Make Plants Grow." During an hour-long special on the "green agenda" in 2012, Fox News turned to right-wing radio host Mark Levin, who denied that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that should be regulated, saying: "Carbon dioxide is what we exhale. Carbon dioxide is necessary for plants." Fox later aired video of coal miner Robert "Buz" Hilberry echoing this, saying: "I'm no scientist but CO's what make plants grow and what make you breathe, so they're trying to choke us all out by stopping the burning of coal."
Fox Frequent Marc Morano: Record High Carbon Dioxide "Should Be Welcomed" Because "Plants Are Going To Be Happy." Marc Morano, who was featured on Fox News to discuss climate change 11 times in 2014 alone, said to Bloomberg that Americans "should welcome" a record high in greenhouse gases because "This means that plants are going to be happy, and this means that global-warming fearmongers are going to be proven wrong."
In a November 23 post for the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire blog, Patrick O'Connor highlighted how the "anti-establishment" views of conservative talk radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin "are informing the race for the Republican presidential nomination" as polls have found that "roughly a third of Republican primary voters strongly identify with conservative talk radio."
Right-wing radio hosts have repeatedly attacked 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, leading many in the media to assert that Bush has a "serious talk radio problem," and O'Connor noted that accordingly just 3% of "the most avid conservative talk-radio listeners" would vote for him. Conversely, O'Connor said right-wing talk radio listeners ranked Ben Carson and Donald Trump as their top choices, which is unsurprising given that the hosts have repeatedly supported the two candidates. Rush Limbaugh has praised Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric, while Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have praised him as "refreshing" for being "willing to say things that no one else is saying." Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity have all repeatedly defended Carson amid the candidate's controversial remarks and inconsistencies in his autobiographical claims.
Despite the fact that Republicans once "touted conservative talk radio as a foolproof medium to communicate directly with their most ardent supporters," O'Connor explained that "Republican leaders in Washington are under siege from their own activists." From O'Connor's post (emphasis added):
Consider the folks who regularly tune in to conservative talk radio. These listeners expect a steady diet of Obama-bashing, so it's hardly surprising that not one surveyed for a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in late October approved of the job Barack Obama is doing as president.
That anger translates to how these Americans view the country as a whole. Some 98% think the country is headed in the wrong direction, a view regularly reinforced on the airwaves by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and other talk-radio hosts who don't have much nice to say about GOP leaders in Washington, either.
A decade ago, Republicans touted conservative talk radio as a foolproof medium to communicate directly with their most ardent supporters. Democrats and liberal groups tried to replicate that success by building their own left-leaning television and radio stations, with far less success.
Now, the tables have turned. Republican leaders in Washington are under siege from their own activists, in part, because conservative radio hosts are almost as likely to rail against the party brass in Congress as they are to lament Mr. Obama's failings in the Oval Office.
The most avid conservative talk-radio listeners ranked retired neurosurgeon Ben Carsonas their top pick, followed by celebrity businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Just 3% gave the nod to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the heir to the party's longest-standing political dynasty, and only a third of these voters said they were even open to voting for Mr. Bush, down from half in September.
Republican presidential contenders would be unwise to write off this bloc; roughly a third of Republican primary voters strongly identify with conservative talk radio, about 10 percentage points higher than the share of GOP primary voters who consider themselves moderate or liberal, according to the survey conducted by the Democrats at Hart Research Associates and the Republicans at Public Opinion Research.
MSNBC reported that former House Benghazi Select Committee investigator Brad Podliska, is suing the committee for defamation after allegedly facing retaliation for claiming the committee was "hyper-focus[ed]" on Hillary Clinton.
Podliska was fired in late June after working for almost ten months as an investigator for the committee partly for, according to Select Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC), mishandling classified information. On October 11, during an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on State of the Union, Podliska called the committee's investigation "partisan" and claimed the focus shifted almost exclusively to Clinton after it was reported that she utilized a private email server while serving as Secretary of State.
Gowdy and the committee denied the allegations, and said Podliska was "terminated for cause." A committee spokesperson issued a statement accusing Podliska of his own bias in his work, claiming he participated in an effort to direct committee resources to create a "'hit piece' on members of the Obama Administration, including Secretary Clinton." The statement said the committee would not be "blackmailed into a monetary settlement for a false allegation." Gowdy also issued his own statement, claiming he never spoke directly with Podliska and was confident no one on the committee instructed him to focus on Clinton. This occurred just weeks after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) bragged to Fox's Sean Hannity that Clinton's "numbers are dropping" because of the Select Committee's work.
The Benghazi Select Committee is largely a creation of Fox News and other members conservative media, who endlessly called for Congress to investigate Clinton over the Benghazi attacks. After McCarthy acknowledged the partisan nature of the committee, Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Bill O'Reilly and Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume conceded that the purpose of the investigation was political.
MSNBC reported that Podliska is not seeking monetary compensation from the defamation suit, but rather for Gowdy to release a statement admitting his allegation Podliska mishandled classified information was false. He is also asking for an injunction to prevent Gowdy from repeating the claim:
Last month, Brad Podliska, an Air Force Reserve major, alleged the Benghazi committee terminated him based on his military obligations and his refusal to advance an agenda targeting Hillary Clinton. Now, Podliska is detailing those charges in court in a new filing that alleges Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy broke the law by defaming him in their public battle over Podliska's firing.
Gowdy previously said Podliska was terminated partly for mishandling classified information.
The suit cites Gowdy's claim from a press release and an interview with NBC News, and argues it was a damaging line of attack, since allegations of such a "serious crime" have "ended the careers of many professionals in national security-related industries."
But the charge was totally false, the suit says, because the information Podliska handled was drawn entirely from "sources from the Internet." Podliska adds that the committee staffer who made the allegation later admitted the material "was not classified." The committee has not withdrawn the allegation.
Suing Gowdy for defamation reflects a confrontational legal strategy, as Podliska is moving beyond the details of his termination - a largely staff-level issue - to directly impugning Gowdy's conduct afterward. It also means that Monday's filing goes further than expected, not only suing the Committee, but naming Gowdy as an individual defendant.
The filing emphasizes Podliska is not seeking money for the defamation claim. Instead, he is calling for a statement establishing that Gowdy's allegation was false, and asking the Court to bar Gowdy from repeating it.
Beyond the legal claims, the filing includes some other detailed accusations sure to draw attention in Washington.
The suit says Gowdy conveyed to staff that he thought his Staff Director and Deputy "were incompetent," that senior Republican committee staffers regularly drank alcohol together in the "office during the workday," and that a nonpartisan security staff member deleted documents to avoid detection by Democratic committee members.
Podliska is seeking a jury trial, raising the prospect of one of the most high profile Washington courtroom dramas since the 2007 prosecution of Scooter Libby, a senior aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
It was déjà vu all over again recently when some in the press rushed to announce that current events suddenly threatened to derail Donald Trump's unorthodox campaign.
The first supposed hurdle came in the form of Trump's bizarre, 95-minute rant in Iowa where he belittled and insulted one of his opponents, Ben Carson. The New York Times reported, "some Republicans believe that his scathing attacks on Mr. Carson -- and voters who support him -- will backfire." The Boston Globe highlighted "some observers" who argued that "Trump may have finally gone too far, hurting his standing at the top of most polls and also adding to worries among Republicans about their field this season."
Then in the wake of the Paris terror attack, The Wall Street Journal suggested the killings, "could shake up the 2016 presidential race, reminding voters of the high stakes and potentially boosting candidates who put their governing experience front and center."
The Times twice last week stressed that GOP voters might turn away from Trump in favor of "more sober-minded candidates"; that they'll take "a more sober measure of who is prepared to serve as commander in chief."
Sober-minded candidates? Have these people been watching the spectacle that is the Republican campaign season for the last six months?
There was no backlash -- quite the opposite. Trump and his xenophobic campaign continue to soar in the GOP polls as he unfurls an endless stream of outrageous proposals. (Bring back U.S.-sanctioned torture! The government needs to close down some American mosques!)
Fact: Trump really has emerged as the perfect Fox News era candidate. He's a bigoted nativist. And he's a bullying, congenital liar who wallows in misinformation. In the process, he's winning over the demagoguery wing of the Republican Party that's been feasting off far-right media hate rhetoric for years.
Now, by successfully neutralizing enough members of the press, Trump's created space for himself to maneuver while espousing jaw-dropping rhetoric that in the past would have been considered disqualifying for any candidate.
After months and months of predicting the "beginning of the end" of Trump's run, the press ought to forthrightly concede he could represent the GOP next November, while at the same time aggressively chronicle the unprecedented extremism that's propelling his run.
Instead, the campaign press today seems poorly equipped to handle what's happening to the Republican Party, and especially over the last ten days since the Paris attack. That signature press timidity seems to spring from a larger reluctance to face the reality of today's GOP.
Desperate to keep alive a long-outdated, asymmetrical model that suggests partisan battles in Washington, D.C., are fought between center-left Democrats and center-right Republicans, the press simply doesn't want to acknowledge the GOP's radical right turn. But it's that defining lurch that's opened the door for a possible Trump win.
Meaning, you can't understand Trump's surge without understanding that the GOP has dismantled the guardrails; that it's now anything goes.
"There is a party center that two decades ago would have been considered the bedrock right, and a new right that is off the old charts," wrote Norm Ornstein, one of the few mainstream media observers who for years has been forcefully clear about the Titanic shifts within the Republican Party in response to Barack Obama's presidency.
To be fair, some of the he's-peaked coverage and commentary has been driven by so-called Republican "elites" who continue to cling to the dream that a "moderate" Prince Charming will magically emerge and save the party from Trump's possible electoral ruin.
Still, there appears to be large overlap between the GOP establishment and the Beltway media in terms of a deeply held belief that Trump doesn't really represent today's Republican Party, and that someone as garish and ill-informed as him could never been selected as the party's nominee.
"For months, the GOP professional class assumed Trump and [Ben] Carson would fizzle with time," reported the Washington Post. In truth, you could replace the phrase "GOP professional class" with "Beltway journalists" from that sentence and it would still be just as accurate.
And it's not just Trump who's wallowing in outrageous rhetoric or radical initiatives. After the Paris terror attack, Ted Cruz claimed Obama "does not wish to defend this country." Ben Carson suggested refugees should be screened as they might be "rabid dogs." Gov. Christie warned against the looming dangers of orphaned toddlers. And Jeb Bush proposed a religious test for refugees from Syria.
Meanwhile, Marco Rubio suggested it's about more than closing down some mosques in America (Trump's idea): "It's about closing down any place, whether it's a cafe, a diner, an internet site, any place where radicals are being inspired."
Collectively, and covering the span of just a few days, the GOP's post-Paris outburst represented some of the most extreme campaign rhetoric heard in many, many years. But you wouldn't necessarily know it from the often-unsure coverage.
That faulty coverage extends beyond the hot-button refugee coverage. At a Saturday Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama, a Black Lives Matter protester interrupted the Republican's speech and was quickly attacked by Trump supporters who pushed the man to the ground and pummeled him.
Look at how CBS News reported on the event:
Really, a "fight" broke out? Like a back-and-forth physical confrontation between two sides? Not quite. All available evidence suggests a black protester who interrupted Trump's speech was quickly jumped and then beaten, kicked, and choked by a crowd of white Trump supporters. (Though his campaign originally said they did not "condone this behavior," the next day, Trump suggested the protester deserved to get "roughed up.")
We've never seen a campaign like Trump's in modern American history. We've never seen a candidate soar to the front of the pack for months on end while espousing such divisive and often bigoted rhetoric. That's why it's long past time for the press to take off any lingering blinders: Fox favorite Trump is a truly radical candidate and he represents today's truly radical Republican Party.
Daily News writer Shaun King called a graphic shared by Donald Trump on Twitter that falsely claimed 81 percent of white murder victims are killed by African-Americans "bogus," "racist," and "from a source that does not exist."
On November 22, the Republican presidential candidate and current front-runner shared the following image:
King reacted to Trump's graphic on Twitter, writing, "this bogus/racist graphic from @RealDonaldTrump - the LEADING Republican candidate, is from a source that does not exist":
According to data from the FBI, in 2014 approximately 82 percent of whites were killed by other whites, in murders where the race of both the victim and offender are known. And the "Crime Statistics Bureau - San Francisco" does not appear to exist.
Trump's sharing of the graphic was also criticized by ThinkProgress and The New Republic, and was sent as controversy swirled over the reported beating of an African-American protester during a November 21 Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama. Trump appeared on Fox News on November 22 and said of the incident, "this guy started screaming by himself and they -- I don't know, rough up, he should have been -- maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing."
Radio host and Fox News personality Sean Hannity grossly misrepresented a Pew Research poll detailing views of ISIS in countries with significant Muslim populations to misleadingly claim that there are "significant levels of support for ISIS within the Muslim world." The survey actually found that Muslim views of ISIS are "overwhelmingly negative."
On the November 20 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity claimed that a new Pew poll "reveals significant levels of support for ISIS within the Muslim world." He also alleged that the poll showed that there could be hundreds of millions of ISIS sympathizers and added that "numbers are far greater than the world has acknowledged."
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): How about we look at the poll numbers they put out, and let's talk about whether or not this could be true, because it reveals significant levels of support for ISIS within the Muslim world. They went to 11 representative nation-states -- excuse me, let me finish my question -- and up to 14 percent of the population has a favorable view of ISIS, and upwards of 62 percent can't decide. They don't know whether they have a favorable opinion. Don't you find those numbers chilling?
HANNITY: I am looking at these numbers, between 63 million and 287 million ISIS supporters in just 11 countries.
However, the Pew poll found that the data showed "overwhelmingly ... negative views of ISIS" in the eleven countries. From Pew:
According to newly released data that the Pew Research Center collected in 11 countries with significant Muslim populations, people from Nigeria to Jordan to Indonesia overwhelmingly expressed negative views of ISIS.
One exception was Pakistan, where a majority offered no definite opinion of ISIS. The nationally representative surveys were conducted as part of the Pew Research Center's annual global poll in April and May this year.
In no country surveyed did more than 15% of the population show favorable attitudes toward Islamic State. And in those countries with mixed religious and ethnic populations, negative views of ISIS cut across these lines.
Right-wing Colorado pastor and radio host Kevin Swanson suggested that the terrorist attack at the Bataclan concert hall in Paris was "a message from God" and posed a question to the "concert-goers, at least those who survived: 'Did you love the devil and did you love the devil's works as your friends were being shot up in that massacre?'"
On the November 19 edition of his show Generations Radio, Swanson said he was "deadly serious" about wanting to ask survivors of the terrorist attack, which occurred during a concert by the Eagles of Death Metal, whether they "appreciate[d] the works of the devil as their friends where being shot up in that concert" (emphasis added):
SWANSON: These events are important. I think it's important to analyze them. They're symbolic to what's happening in our entire society today, and when you get a wake up call like what happened at France's 9/11 last Friday night, at the concert I think we all need to pay attention to what's happening. This is a message from God. God is shooting a shot across the bow and we better be paying attention to this. Music matters, culture matters. Culture ultimately is a reflection of world view, and so if you want to know world view just take a look at the culture and say 'oh that's what the world view is all about.'
SWANSON: It's a warning. Certainly a providential irony here. These are the works of the devil, the mass murder itself, are the works of the devil. In other words, there was a demonstration of the devil and his works happening at the time that they were singing the song "who'll love the devil, who'll sing his song, I'll love the devil, I'll sing his song." At the moment they were singing that, the devil himself or at least the devil influencing these murderers and entered in showed the concert-goers the works of the devil. Now at that point, I think we need to ask concert-goers, at least those who survived "Did you love the devil and did you love the devil's works as your friends were being shot up in that massacre?" I think we ought to ask the question right now. And I'm very serious, I'm deadly serious asking this question. "You were dancing to this worship service to the devil, the devil came in, the devil did what the devil does best: he killed, he massacred, he destroyed. As the devil did his works," again, the microphone is in the face of those who were attending the conference [sic] right now, I'm asking the question of those attending that concert "did you appreciate the works of the devil as your friends where being shot up in that concert?"
Swanson has a track record of inflammatory rhetoric, as well as being an influential figure in right-wing political circles. According to Right Wing Watch, during his closing remarks at the November 7 National Religious Liberties Conference he organized, Swanson declared that the Bible called for the death penalty as the punishment for homosexuality. The conference was attended by Republican presidential candidates including Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, and then-candidate Bobby Jindal.
Swanson's extreme rhetoric has drawn media attention to the GOP candidates who attended his November conference. During the November 5 edition of CNN's The Lead, host Jake Tapper asked Ted Cruz if his alliance with Swanson wasn't "in some ways" an endorsement for "conservative intolerance." During the November 9 edition of her show on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow also blasted the conference's homophobic content and criticized the three Republicans attending, asking whether Fox Business would push candidates to explain their stance during the November 10 debate (emphasis added):
This was a conference about the necessity of the death penalty as a punishment for homosexuality. This religious liberties conference in Iowa this weekend. And there were pamphlets about why gay people should be executed. There were multiple discussions about it from the stage.
There were at least two other speakers besides the host of the event who have publicly called for gay people to be executed. There was discussion at the event in print about whether or not -- there was discussion at the event by people who have described the finite differences between the different methods of execution that should be used to kill people should they be thrown off cliffs, should they be stoned to death? Apparently both of those are sanctions means of execution for the crime of being gay.
And again, this host of the event who interviewed three Republican presidential candidates on stage, who convened the entire event, he has spoken in the past about the need to execute gay people in order to live in a properly Christian society. He did not hide that light under bushel once the candidates were there. He talked about that repeatedly at this event from the same stage that these candidates appeared.
And Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal are going to be at the kids' table at the next Republican debate, which is tomorrow night in Milwaukee. Ted Cruz will be on the main stage because Ted Cruz is now polling third in a number of polls nationwide.
I don't know if that is considered to be a scandal anymore in Republican politics. I mean, it will be interesting to see if it comes up in tomorrow night's debate, right? I don't know if our friends over at the Fox Business Channel will feel comfortable raising this issue with Senator Cruz or with any of the other candidates who went to the "kill the gays" event this weekend.
Eagles of Death Metal is a side project of Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, who is raising money for the families of those killed during the attacks.
In the wake of the recent terror attacks in France, the fact that someone on a terrorist watch list can still pass a background check and buy a firearm from a licensed gun dealer is making media headlines. But terrorists and other dangerous individuals don't actually need to subject themselves to the scrutiny of a background check because of a loophole in federal law.
Media discussions on how a terrorist might get a gun in the U.S. have largely centered on what is known as the "terror gap." Under current federal law, individuals who are on terror watch lists are not prohibited from buying firearms. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, more than 2,000 people on the FBI's consolidated terror watch list were approved to purchase firearms between 2004 and 2014, despite the fact that they underwent background checks. The National Rifle Association opposes barring individuals on this list from buying firearms, arguing that doing so would violate Second Amendment rights.
But potential terrorists don't need to submit themselves to a background check at all. Due to a loophole in federal law, a significant number of gun sales can occur without a background check, even to those on the terror watch lists.
The federal background check law only requires individuals "engaged in the business" of selling firearms to obtain a license and perform background checks on customers. People who are engaged in "occasional sales" or sell out of their "personal collection" do not need to obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL) or run checks on buyers. (Eight states have closed this loophole by enacting laws requiring a background check at the point of sale for all firearms.)
Some so-called "private" gun sellers, including firearms traffickers, take advantage of the vagueness of the definition of what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms in order to sell large numbers of guns without a background check. These types of sales occur at gun shows, and increasingly over the Internet.
Terrorists have already been caught exploiting gun shows to obtain weapons. In 2001, the New York Times reported on the conviction of a Hezbollah member who attempted to divert weapons from gun shows in Michigan into Lebanon. In June 2015, a North Carolina teenager who was arrested by the FBI was allegedly planning on obtaining an assault weapon from a local gun show to use in an ISIS-inspired attack.
A 2011 undercover investigation by the City of New York of seven gun shows in three states found that 19 out of 30 private sellers agreed to a sale where the buyer said he probably couldn't pass a background check. One seller who was surreptitiously filmed sold a gun to an undercover investigator who told him three times that he couldn't pass a background check. Other sellers simply laughed and continued with the sale when the investigator said he couldn't pass a check:
An investigation of online sales in 2011, also by the City of New York, found a similar trend, with 62 percent of sellers agreeing to complete a sale to someone who said he or she probably couldn't pass a background check.
Al-Qaeda is aware of the private sale loophole, and has urged its followers to exploit it. In a 2011 video, American born al-Qaeda propagandist Adam Gadahn urged al-Qaeda's followers to go to gun shows in order to buy firearms without undergoing a background check, asking his audience, "So what are you waiting for?"